The Twelfth Fret ~ Since 1977 ~

Orpheum Imperator Style C Archtop Sunburst, 1934


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The Orpheum Imperator Style C archtop was the top of the line for the brand when introduced by Lange, a prominent instrument builder, in 1933. Featuring a carved, X-braced Adirondack Spruce top, Flame Maple for the sides, back and neck, Brazilian Rosewood for the multi-bound fingerboard and headplate, Ebony for the bridge and Mother of Pearl for the logo, this was an impressive instrument.

The Orpheum name was first used on a line of top-quality banjos built by Rettberg and Lange, who in 1897 purchased the remains of the Buckbee Banjo Company. Rettberg retired around 1922, with Lange continuing the company. As the 1920’s progressed and guitars began to gain popularity, banjoists began their great migration. For 1933, Lange contracted with the Regal company of Chicago and introduced a line of arched-top guitars including the top-of-the Line Imperator Style C. This model was introduced in 1933 and built until perhaps 1939 in low numbers, the Depression limiting sales. Lange went out of business in 1942 with the start of WW2.

Here we’re looking at an Orpheum Imperator Style C archtop built around 1934, based on its low serial number and other dated instruments with higher numbers. The Adirondack Spruce top is X-braced, which helps to date it in a general way. X-bracing for archtops began appearing with the 1931 Martin C-1, and from the mid to late 1930’s was picked up by Gibson and used until the early 1940’s. It’s roughly the same period for round-hole archtop models.

This wonderful instrument is in overall good and almost original condition; the tuners have been replaced with modern Wilkinson designed, vintage style models. The finish is original and in good condition, with play wear expected for an instrument approaching 90 years old. There are small binding replacements between the nut and first fret on the bass side, and the second fret on the treble. The neck set is fairly steep, resulting in a high bridge position. Fret wear is light, and it has likely at some point have been re-fretted. The label visible through the bass F-hole is intact, complete and readable, and inside the treble F-hole there is a label from

The neck has a soft-V profile, and the 16 inch wide body is comfortable to play. It plays well and does sound good, with a warm, rich tone and plenty of volume and projection.

The original hard shell case is included.

Price: $2,799.99 CAD
  • Model: Imperator Style C
  • Year: 1934 | Approximate year
  • Finish Sunburst
  • Class: Vintage
  • Serial Number: 480, built approximately 1934 by Regal in Chicago IL
  • Country of Origin: USA
  • Condition: Good

  • Consignment Item

  • Including original Hard case
  • Instrument Weight: 4.84lbs 2.2kg
  • Scale Length: 25.35in 644mm
  • Nut Width: 1.821in 46.26mm

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